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From the architect: For a studio, space is the source of motivation and inspiration. However, in today's society, the office environment is generally dull and unpleasant, and lacks flexibility in spatial considerations. Under the pandemic, a new hybrid working model is derived. In some cases, employees will work at home through video conference, resulting in idle space costs; while some employees cannot concentrate and work at home due to the noisy environment, moreover, covid-19 also reduces the need for business trips and meetings, and so some employees even stay in the studio for longer time, making the studio to be an extension of 'home'. Different propositions were therefore derived when designing the studio for Sim-Plex : How to make effective use of the part of the studio when it is idle? How to improve the inspiration environment and atmosphere for the long duration time of staying by employees due to the pandemic? How to showcase the variety of design details and functionality when clients come to visit?
Sim-Plex design studio has been established for four years. The projects are mainly residential space. In the past, renting a work place couldn’t have its own sense of identity. A year ago, a factory unit with 50 years history was found and it located at the boundary of residential and industrial context. Sim-Plex eager to create a studio space with great flexibility and could inspire both the employees and clients. As being Sim-Plex's latest studio and gallery space, “Sim-Plex Afflatus" is designed with a sense of habitation as the basis, integrating leisure, home, entertainment, reading, coffee tasting, gallery, and office in one room. For employees, the shared space configuration can be used for office work, meetings or meals, where can be turned into a living space for reading books and tasting coffee when it is idle due to the pandemic or when employees are taking rest; for clients, it is an gallery that showcases the design details of mixed materials and is also a place for consultation and discussion.
Patrick Lam, the founder of Sim-Plex Design Studio, who are the first Hong-Konger to win the Dezeen Award and then also become a judge of the award, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic is actually a catalyst for redefining the studio space. We believe its impact is profound and continuous. When designing this studio and gallery space, the increased demand for the spatial flexibility should be take into consideration: when employees work at home, the space can be used as a gallery showcasing of the design details or for leisure habitation; when employees are in the studio, the integration of a sense of home can help balance employees’ stress of not going outdoor and traveling due to pandemic and stimulate their creative thinking. ”
New Hybrid Working Space Under Pandemic
Under pandemic, both spaces and working patterns have been affected. A new hybrid working pattern has been derived, which means employees some days work at home through video conference, some days stay in the office, and the rest is off. Therefore, there is a consideration of the cost of idle work space; and the lack of going out and traveling under pandemic has also led to the need to consider the mental and physical health at the office.
Sim-Plex incorporated the following considerations when designing its own studio: A slide-foldable begonia glass screen cabinet is set up at the entrance. When the glass screen is closed, not only ensuring the privacy of the studio, but also dividing an independent disinfection zone. where employees or clients can apply alcohol handrub, change Shoes, put umbrellas in the bin, etc.; when the screen is opened, it can be used as a bar counter for chatting. The cabinet also has a built-in refrigerator for frozen food or drinks; the recess of the screen cabinet can be temporarily placed with the cart but later for large printer; there are also gold-plated stainless steel hangers in the high position, which can hang natural potted plants or long umbrellas.
A total of 2200 x 1100mm extra-long terrazzo table, for four employees to use each with enough individual space, the table is basically supported by gold-plated stainless steel stand, and there is a wooden cabinet in the middle for supporting and a built-in electric system to supply power to the laptop; the table can also be used for multi-people meetings. The TV and projector screen in the studio can be used for PPT presentation; if the table is not used by employees, it can be used to greet friends and guests for a meal, the hidden electric system can power the induction cooker and for use of hot pot.
The Gallery Showcasing Mixed Materials And Design Details
Sim-Plex hopes that when clients come to visit for design consultation, the studio can be used as a gallery for showcasing mixed materials and various design details. Industrial buildings generally follow the beam and column structure, and the headroom is quite high, but at the same time the size of the beams and columns is very large. The giant beams and columns affect the functionality and atmosphere of the unit. Sim-Plex try to divide the ceiling into two zones. One side of the ceiling and the huge beam in the middle are wrapped with a wooden pitched roof ceiling. Light troughs and spotlights are added to create a peaceful and moody atmosphere. The other side is purely painted to keep the high headroom floor space.
The unit has a huge column on one side, which is also covered by a full-height cabinet, with a craft-in space to reduce the sense of bulkiness, and matched with mixed materials for the finish, including the use of grey veneer, light wooden ecological melamine faced board, grey terrazzo, and some matched with bronze handle; a large number of material samples are stored in the cabinet for clients to choose from, and also daily necessities including clothes; the storage cabinet also has two wooden sliding doors with cloths finish and corkscrew inside. In addition to the storage space after opening the doors, the cloth panels can also be nailed up with paper, which is convenient for the staff to discuss the design or explain to the clients.
At the back of the second terrazzo table has a grey wooden full height cabinet, the finish is mainly dark walnut and light grey veneer, which can display the awards of Sim-Plex. The shelves are decorated with gold-plated stainless steel and light troughs; For the floor, the use of light grey wooden floor tiles is not only durable and can be matched with the wooden cabinets, at the front of the full-height cabinet, spanish vintage floor tiles are used with bronze dividing strips, highlighting the 50-year history of the industrial building.
The Scent Of Coffee Reacting With The Reading Atmosphere
The sense of habitation is not only about the daily functionality, but also the sense of smell. Therefore, the full-height cabinet of the studio has various coffee equipment including semi-automatic espresso machines, grinders, etc., and the room is filled with fragrance of coffee when making coffee; behind the foyer is a feature wall with grey-blue flower wallpaper, divided by walnut strips and underneath is a magazine rack, which can hold books or magazines written by Sim-Plex.
The grey wooden wall at the side has the gold-plated stainless steel slogan ‘Live Beyond The Limit’ ; next to it is a marble round table can be used for clients consultation, and they can also enjoy coffee while reading a book at the rack; behind the extra-long terrazzo table is a large cork board concealed in a cloth for nailing paper up, and underneath is around two-meter-long bookcase, just like a mini library; beside it, there is a long sofa for seat or sleep, with two marble round tables, a wall-mounted TV, and a projector screen at the top. There is also a small magazine rack on the side of the grey woodwn full-height cabinet; when in Friday happy hour, disco light could be put on the long terrazzo table to change to holiday mood for the studio.
The Revitalisation Of Industrial Space
The functionality of industrial building has gradually faded out with time. In recent years, the government has proposed a number of measures to revitalise industrial buildings and encourage the units to be used as art and design studios. Sim-Plex also hopes to give a new potential to industrial units. The site context of this industrial building is located at the junction of the residential and the industrial area, which is advantageous in location and closer to the supporting facilities of the livelihood. In the lobby of the 50 years old industrial building, the lift is old-style and need manual control configuration; In the corridor, a bronze-plated stainless steel door frame is used to echo the historical sense of the industrial building, and the gradually white fritted glass door has the effect of contrasting and increasing privacy of the studio. When the glass door is opened, the front is the gold-plated stainless steel font sign of Sim-Plex with light trough; at the top of the long sofa is a giant beam with raw concrete texture to echoing the history of the industrial building; ventilation in industrial buildings is generally the most difficult subject. Sim-Plex added two vents to the original small windows to greatly increase the convection air.
The importance of the studio environment under the pandemic has greatly increased.“Sim-Plex Afflatus” which is the latest studio and showroom for Sim-Plex, hopes to make effective use of space when it is idle, and improve the working atmosphere for employees while injecting a sense of habitation to balance the distress under pandemic. Sim-Plex also hopes to create an excellent place for clients to admire the design details and consult design.
Architect: Sim-Plex Design Studio
Location: Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong
Size: 330 sq.ft.
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